Darlene stumbled into an affair, but found something much more sinister.
| “Darlene! Where is that article? Your deadline’s today, I hope you know that,” Mr. Brigson huffed moodily, leaning on his employee’s desk. Darlene gave a bright smile and turned around in her seat, handing her finished piece to her boss.
“It’s right here. I was just doing some final proofreading, but everything looks good,” she beamed.
“Hmph! I’ll decide that, thank you very much,” he retorted, snatching the papers from her. Mr. Brigson scanned the article, his puffy eyes fervently searching for any tiny flaw he could have an excuse to rip into Darlene for.
“This is… acceptable,” he grumbled. Darlene kept up her bright, cheery smile until he had shut the door to his office.
“… Asshole,” she muttered under her breath, her blue eyes shooting spears at the silhouette of her boss’ head behind the frosted glass window in the door of his office.
Looking down, she noticed a brown leather wallet sitting on her desk. It wasn’t hers and the only person who had stopped at her desk this morning had been Mr. Brigson. The wallet must be his. Just to be sure, she flipped it open to see if there was a driver’s license inside. Mr. Brigson’s face stared back at her from a photo that seemed to be taken at the beach. He was smiling broadly with his arm around a woman who was kissing his cheek. “That’s not Mrs. Brigson,” Darlene murmured to herself. She had seen her boss’ wife on several occasions, mostly at work parties. Mrs. Brigson was plump and cheerful, with blonde hair that was greying slightly at the temples and spectacles. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago and had been battling it ever since. Darlene remembered Mr. Brigson’s office being littered with sympathy flowers and cards for months. The young redhead in this picture was slim and toned. She looked like a swimwear model.
A malicious grin slowly started to spread across Darlene’s face. This was just too perfect. The overbearing jerk who made her work long hours into the night; the boss who never remembered to thank her for any of the hard work she’d put in for him over these last three years; the boss who had never given her a raise or promotion despite her impeccable attendance and flawless articles was cheating on his sick wife with a woman who looked young enough to be his daughter. She could see the headline in the paper already. Chief Editor Of Metropolitan Weekly Hanging Out His Dirty Laundry. Yes, that was the perfect headline. She’d write it, of course. The article would be so publicized and scandalous, Mr. Brigson would be out of a job and she’d be on top. “Darlene Turner, Chief Editor of Metropolitan Weekly,” she breathed. That title sounded glorious. She could get used to that.
Snapping out of her daydream, Darlene rummaged through the wallet, looking for anything else as evidence of her boss’ affair. Sure enough, there were receipts from hotel rooms, all rented out in various parts of the city and all under different names, along with a few more pictures of Mr. Brigson and Mystery Woman together; however, Darlene nearly danced in jubilation when she pulled out a wrinkled old napkin with tiny, neat handwriting on it.
You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever known, and this past year with you has been the happiest of my life. I know we were meant to be together. You’re perfect for me in every way. I know you feel the same. Your wife can’t satisfy you the way I can, and you know it. If you leave her, we can get married and start a new life together. You can have the children with me that she could never give you. I know you want that.
I know you won’t leave her, though; otherwise, you would have left already. That’s why I’m taking care of her for you.
You’ll be sad for a time, but you’ll soon see that I’m only doing what’s best for you… for us.
Darlene shuddered. She felt as though someone had taken an ice cube and ran it down her spine. She thought she’d been investigating an affair, not a plot for murder. “This is insane…” she muttered, throwing the contents of the wallet on her desk and running her fingers nervously through her brunette curly locks. This was much more serious than getting revenge on Mr. Brigson for treating her like garbage. A woman was in danger and as far as Darlene knew, only Mr. Brigson, this Sheryl woman and Darlene knew about it. Should she call the police? Had Mr. Brigson already done that?
Shaking, she pulled her cell phone out of her purse and was about to dial 9 – 1 – 1, when a voice startled her.
“Excuse me, but could you tell me where Mr. Brigson’s office is?” Darlene looked up and her eyes widened in recognition. It was the same woman in the photographs; Sheryl. When Darlene could only stammer and stare, Sheryl looked down on the desk. Her eyes zeroed in on the wallet, the photographs and receipts… and the scrawled note on the napkin. She rolled her eyes and heaved a heavy sigh. Leaning close to Darlene, she whispered softly into her ear. “I just hate when people can’t mind their own business, don’t you? It makes for very… messy… situations.”
Suddenly, Sheryl straightened up and gave a smile. “It was nice meeting you. I’m sure we’ll meet again.” She greatly emphasised the last sentence.
With that, she walked out of the busy office. If anyone thought Darlene’s sudden absence from work, or Mr. Brigson’s surprise engagement to a mysterious redhead so soon after his wife’s tragic death was strange, they never breathed a word about it.